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Coaching Aids For Youth Sports

Duffle bag, whistle, appropriate athletic shoes, clip board or spiral notebook, pens and pencils, hand pump, needles, air pressure gauge, rule book - This is by no means the complete list of aids for coaching. It is; however, a good starting point for all men and women that are coaching youth sports. We generally define youth sports to include ages 3 through 18. This list of items will help you run effective practices and concentrate on coaching. The list is in no particular order and no priority is implied. Pick and choose what you think makes the most sense for you.

- Athletic shoes: having a decent pair of athletic shoes that are for the sport, will help a great deal while you're on the field, or in the gym, or on the court. Ensure that the shoes fit and are appropriate to the surfaces you will be coaching on. You really don't want to blister your toes and be limping around because of a bad fitting pair of shoes. Having the proper shoes can also provide protection to the surface that you're playing on. Wooden gymnasium floors are very susceptible to being marred, scratched and worn from street shoes!

- Coaches whistle and lanyard: a good whistle is invaluable in getting the team's attention. Starting and stopping drills, while you are overseeing a scrimmage, the whistle will help save your vocal chords. The Fox40 is a plastic whistle without a pea inside, and it has a convenient rubber area where your teeth bite down to hold the whistle in your mouth. It's easy on your jaw. Whatever you buy, make sure you get a lanyard to attach the whistle to and wear around your neck.

- Clip board: a good suggestion with the clip board is to buy one that had a "white board" surface. You will be able to write on the clip board with dry erase markers. This is especially handy during matches and games when you want to diagram something for the team. The clip board can also hold your practice notes, match schedule, game line ups, rotatation/substitution lists, telephone numbers, etc. The clip board is a great organizer.

- Spiral notebook: a clip board is handy for individual games and practices, but if you like to be able to look back on what you have been working on in practice, or review the last few competitive matches a spiral notebook might provide even more help. A spiral notebook that includes dividers is very handy. You can use each section for different activities. One can be for tryouts, another practice plans, a third might be game day note, lineups, and items you want the players to concentrate on during the game. This notebook also provides a great, single source of information as you look back and review the season.

- Pump, needles, and air pressure gauge: if you are using balls provided by the facility, it is almost a guarantee that few, if any, of the balls will be properly inflated. Take the time at the first practice to check all the balls you will be using to ensure proper inflation. Check the rule book for your sport. Many balls will give you a range of PSI for inflation, and the rule book will give a much narrower and usually lower inflation PSI. It's difficult to handle improperly inflated balls, and a really hard ball hurts if you're hit with it. You can get extravagant with these items. Pumps with built in air pressure gauges are available, but at a higher price. Make sure that you buy a half dozen needles. It's guaranteed you will break one or two a year. To keep all this together, get a gallon sized Ziploc bad to hold the pump needles and air gauge. With the Ziploc, everything will be readily available and you won't have to rummage around your bag looking for things.

- Pens and pencils: it's always good to have a couple of each in your coaching kit. If you used the above idea of using a Ziploc bag for the ball pump et al, the pencils and pens handily fit in there as well. The pens and pencils always come in handy, and not just for writing practice plans or game lineups. Score keepers and referees are famous for coming in without a pen or pencil. Be prepared, you'll keep the game moving and make the referees feel better.

- Rule book: it's always good to know the rules of the sport you are coaching. Too many times, disputes arise about a particular rule or interpretation but there is no rule book available. Besides buying the rule book, take some time to read it! The rules of the game are constantly changing, and you want to be up on what might have been an infraction last year, but is no longer one this year.

- Duffel bag: you have now collected quite a few things to be toting back and forth to practice and games. A duffel bag or sports bag, or back pack can be a life saver. With the bag you now have everything you need to coach in ONE place. What a great idea. You can keep this in the trunk of your car, or by the back door. Keeping everything mentioned above in the bag saves you from running around the house looking for your whistle, or gym shoes, or clip board. You get the idea.

All of these items will help you coach. You can become better organized, and "walk the walk" of coming to the game prepared. Good luck and good coaching.